Meet the Press   |  September 15, 2013

Obama handling of Syria: Roundtable review

A Meet the Press panel debates the president's handling of the crisis in Syria.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let's talk about the pure politic, let's talk about how president obama is handling this, the leadership test. kathleen parker , in your column this morning in "the washington post " you capture the two styles america is now dealing with going back to president obama and npresident bush. you white "we can't seem to get it quite right at the helm. either we're saddled way cocksure decidinato a.e r who is feared for his lack of pause or we're stuck with an overhigh thinker." for everybody and i'll start with you. how has obama handled this?

>> well, it's been painful watching, really, because we've been witness to i think what seems to be his internal struggle, i mean his superego are att eodds with each other, maybe his inner hawk and inner dove but in any case he can't quite get to where he needs to be. in a way he's almost thinking out loud and, we all do that in this business and appreciate when people reflect and are self-aware. if you're the president it is taking an awfully long time to decide what it is and there's great freight in the world. it could turn out well in the end and then we'll have to reappraise how he led.

>> right. i mean, the way he's led up until now could be dependent upon the outcome. your new by, richard wolffe is

"the message: the reselling of president obama ," so how does his leadership look.

>> what we're seeing is the president as he puts it send a message to his leadership and red lines and it's very confusing because there has been a pattern all along with this president whether it's health care , the recovery act and what i'm reporting, as well, in the campaigns where his message has been muddled. but actually the campaigns were anything but a smooth glide path to victory and these questions of leadership really come back to has he got the people in place where he's going to allow a debate? he has policy debates all the time. one thing he won't debate is about his messaging and his communications and his politics. on that he does not want to hear different opinions.

>> so but i mean the question is, we heard senator mccain and others say this is weakness. the deal is weakness, you can't trust the russians. the other side of that is maybe the president has given space for something unexpectedly good to happen

>> that's possible but if you look at this in a sense he tried all the policies, in other words, we'll get assad out, oh, there's a red line if chemical wems are used. oh, we'll strike militarily, oh, no, we're not, we're going to go to congress and it was karl rove who always said, you have to measure things like this by outcomes, and if you think about judo using the power of the other side against them, by drawing putin in and russia in on this, it's -- i mean, now they are committed to something that it may not work, it may take months or even years, but the result is the stabilization almost by exit.

>> i think that's a tough spot for president obama . we've seen the sausage making in the last two week and almost been like having a president who isn't a commander in chief but commander in confusion. at times it seems like dr. jeky jekyll and mr. heidi ganahyde. assad must go, there is a red line then the next moment he's vacillating and trying to do anything but what he has said. what we've also seen for the first time is a congress abandon him including some of his staunchest supporters in the democratic party . you've seen people like the congressional black caucus members like the hispanic caucus members say we're not going with you and you've seen a lot of criticism coming even from democrats on his administration, the lack of clarity, the lack of vision, the lack of position, the lack of strategy. i've had congressmen who left those classified briefings, i can tell you, mario diaz ba letter, he wanted to vote yes but that briefing was like hearing that he stokeystone cops and i might be offending the keystone cops .